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How to Clean Grout: Definitive Guide

on September 26, 2021

Grout is the unsung hero of your floors. It's what keeps each tile securely in place, helping you avoid the dreaded "slip hazard" that could lead to a costly injury. But having clean grout isn't just about safety - it can also be an aesthetic concern.

If there are any stains on your grout lines, they will show through and detract from the overall look of your flooring. Professionals say that keeping your grout lines clean at all times will help keep mold from forming in these areas and increase its lifespan by years. Cleaning grout doesn't have to be hard work! Here is a complete guide for getting rid of pesky dirt and dust lurking in those cracks:

 

Types of grout cleaners

There are five grout cleaners: bleach, muriatic acid, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and baking soda. Each one is used to get rid of a particular type of stains or dirt on the floor tiles. It's recommended that you use different ones because mixing them can cause fumes which could be dangerous for your health if inhaled directly from the cleaner container immediately after spraying. 

  • Use baking soda to remove mold stains. However, it is not ideal for softer stones that may get scratched by abrasive chemicals like this. Baking soda can also remove tough oil and fat residues so long as the grout lines are left to soak first before scrubbing them clean with a scouring brush.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is effective at removing rust from tiles so long as you don't mind having an unsightly discolored area in your room for a couple of hours until the chemical reaction occurs. Make sure to cover all surrounding plants and furniture when using this substance, too, because they might be affected by its fumes if exposed directly after spraying.
  • Vinegar is ideal for removing dirt and grease stains.
  • Muriatic acid works wonders at removing tough, dark dirt or rust stains on porcelain tiles. When using bleach or muriatic acid, soak a sponge in bleach or muriatic acid in the solution and apply it to the grout lines. Let it stay for about three minutes before wiping it off with water, then rinse thoroughly to remove any residue.

 

How do I prep for grout cleaning?

Before you start, it is vital that you understand what type of grout your floor has. It will affect how well the cleaning process goes and the level of success (or failure) in achieving a cleaner tile surface. Here are some things to look for:

 

  • If the tiles have metal or plastic pieces attached to them, it means they are machine made tiles that cannot be cleaned with water alone. You will need special chemicals instead because these types of tiling are much more porous than natural stone ones. However, if there are no metallic decorations on the surface, be sure to check whether it's marble or limestone before taking any harsh chemical action. Not everything can stand up against acid without wearing it down first!
  • The next step is to clean the tiles before applying a fresh coat of sealer. You may think that it's not part of your job because it doesn't affect how successful or unsuccessful your grout cleaning will be. 
  • Also, consider whether you have a professional grout cleaning machine, especially for a large project. This is the type of equipment that uses high pressure and heat to clean all types of tiles. Dirt, debris and even old sealant will be pushed out with it because there's no way for that stuff to stand up against such power. 
  • It is advisable to use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and debris before starting the cleaning process. This will save you time, effort and money as well. It may be tempting to skip some steps, but your grout clean-up won't have any visible results without proper preparation.
  • You can start with using gentle chemical cleaners, which are safe for household use on tile surfaces that don't consist of natural stone or porcelain tiles. these products resemble floor polish in texture, so they should be applied directly onto the surface by spreading them evenly over all tiles. Leave it alone for about five minutes until bubbles form. This is how you'll know when the product starts working properly.

Tools and materials necessary when cleaning grout

Tools: sponge brush/ scrubber, bucket w/ water & detergent solution (or bleach), paper towel roll, sawdust powder (optional) 

Materials: vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, bleach (optional), elbow grease.

You can find these items at most home improvement stores. If you have a large project, it might be best to purchase these supplies in bulk, so you do not run out of them midway through the process. Once you have all materials, follow along below to learn about the step-by-step processes used today for this DIY project.

 

Step by step guide for routine grout cleaning

  1. Clean the area with a vacuum cleaner and a wet towel, removing all dust and debris from the grout lines.
  2. Mix water and bleach in a bucket or large bowl to create a cleaning solution containing about three parts water, 1-part bleach. You can also use vinegar instead of bleach; this will leave your grout less streaky, but it won't kill mold spores as bleach will.
  3. Apply the mixture to your clean floor using either an old paintbrush (the bristles should be cut short) or an old toothbrush. It's best not to use anything new for this project because you'll want to throw these brushes away after you're finished.
  4. Let the grout soak for about 15 minutes and then scrub with a sponge, toothbrush or cloth. Be sure to clean all around the grout lines and not just where you see dirt.
  5. Rinse your sponge with a cup of clean water and wipe the grout lines. This will remove any excess dirt from the floor.
  6. Allow the grout to dry for at least 20 minutes before stepping on the floor. If you use bleach, do not allow anyone into the area without boots on as it can cause irritation and burns on bare skin.
  7. When the grout is dry, seal it with a clear tile sealant to prevent discoloration and stains in the future.
  8. Repeat the process if your grout is not clean.

 

Step by step guide for weekly grout deep cleaning

  1. Start with a grout brush and scrub the tiles. Make sure not to press too hard as you might crack it. Continue scrubbing until all visible dirt has been removed from the tile surface.
  2. Switch to a sponge dampened by freshly squeezed lemon juice (or any other cleaning agent). 
  3. Wipe down again but be gentle so as not to damage the grout between tiles! 
  4. Let sit on stain/dirt for around ten minutes before wiping clean once more with a soft cloth rinsed out with clear water. 
  5. Take a clean, soft cloth or sponge dipped in vinegar and wipe down your tile surface one final time for that shine we all love! 
  6. Dry with another towel before letting air dry overnight, which will prevent premature re-soiling from dirt particles left behind by moisture evaporating off the flooring during the drying process.

If no visible stains are present, simply mopping up spills should be enough to keep them looking new without needing a deep cleaning.

Step by step guide for cleaning tough stains on grout

Cleaning tough stains on grout can be very frustrating. This guide will show you how to clean grout the right way and make your floors look new again!

  1. Use a soft brush or toothbrush to scrub along the grout line. 
  2. For stubborn stains such as calcium deposits, remove them with baking soda and vinegar. Just mix two parts of hot water with one-part white vinegar and add about half a cup of baking soda into it. 
  3. Dip your cloth in this mixture and spread it on the stain for at least thirty minutes before you wipe off using a wet sponge or rag. You can also try rubbing alcohol mixed with hydrogen peroxide solution that helps get rid of black mold from tiles without bleaching any colors away! 
  4. If there is mildew growth due to moisture accumulation, make sure you dry out all excess moisture from the space once it is clean by getting some fans going over the area. 
  5. Use a grout sealer for sealing the pores of your tiles that prevent dirt accumulation and other stains from seeping into it over time to make cleaning more manageable in future!

Helpful tips when cleaning grout

  • Be careful when mixing peroxide with other chemicals in order not to damage yourself or create dangerous fumes in the home by mistake. 
  • Don't use too much hydrogen peroxide, or you could damage the grout further. 
  • It's always a good idea to work quickly in case of accidental spillage and have paper towels on hand just in case!
  • Don't forget about ventilation when using harsh cleaning products. 
  • To keep grout looking pristine all year round, consider hiring professional help at least once a year to give tiles, grout and even your air vents a thorough clean.
  • Never use harsh chemicals like acetone on your tiles; it will only damage them further 
  • Always wear gloves when doing DIY projects around the house; this is especially important while working with strong substances like cement cleaner, which should be handled carefully to avoid accidents.
  • Ensure you rinse tiles thoroughly before using them; do not let any chemical residue soak into your flooring as they may cause discoloration over time.
  • There should be a good amount of elbow grease involved with each application method for maximum results.
  • As much as possible, avoid using bleach on your tiles too often! It can wear away at them over time, which means they'll need more maintenance in the future.

When should you replace grout? 

In some cases, your floor will have a large amount of moisture that can damage your grout. This could be from a leaky pipe under the tiles, for example. Over time tiles may become loose around their edges because of wear and tear on the mortar holding them together. Water seepage often accompanies such problems with tile installation; to keep things dry, you’re going to need new grout! 

In addition, when it is worn out and dirty, or if the color has faded, it is time you consider installing a new one. If there are no apparent issues like these above, regular cleaning and resealing should help extend its life further.

How often should I clean grout?

The frequency of cleaning the tile floor depends on a few factors, such as traffic and the location of stains. If you have pets or kids who play around in your tiles, then you might need to do it more often. 

If you have a closed-in space with no air circulation, then cleaning needs to be done more frequently because it might quickly accumulate dirt and bacteria that are hard to remove without the right tools or chemicals.

When should I seal my tiles?

Once your tiles are dry and free from all dirt, moisture, and chemicals, you should apply a sealant for protection. The sealer will also help keep your tiles dirt-free and protect them from stains and salt damage that can be brought about by hot tubs or spas.

When sealing grout, use acrylic urethane to provide water resistance against scuffs, scratches, and stains, which are common during daily wear and tear. 

After applying the sealant, you will need to wait for 24 hours before walking on your tiles so that they can cure properly. If you place heavy items or furniture over it too early, this might cause indentations in the grout, making it look unsightly once everything has dried out.

There are many ways to get your grout looking great again. With a little bit of elbow grease and some household items, you can have the cleanest grout. You only need to make sure you use it safely for your floor type. The above tips will help you keep your home looking spectacular while also keeping the flooring cleaner longer!

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